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Another 779,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims last week

The numbers are an improvement from recent weeks, but high by historical standards.
A Help Wanted sign is posted at a Designer Eyes store at Brickell City Centre Nov. 6 in Miami. [Lynne Sladky | Associated Press]
A Help Wanted sign is posted at a Designer Eyes store at Brickell City Centre Nov. 6 in Miami. [Lynne Sladky | Associated Press] [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]
Published Feb. 4

Another 779,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims during the first full week of Joe Biden’s presidency, the lowest number since November, but still historically high by any other measure.

Last week’s claims represent a drop of 33,000 from the week before, but a 287 percent increase from the same week in 2020.

During the seven days ending Jan. 23, nearly 4.6 million workers claimed continued unemployment insurance, which means they were receiving at least two consecutive weeks of benefits. That’s a decrease of 193,000 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In all, 17.8 million Americans received some form of unemployment for the week ending Jan. 16, the most recent stretch for which that stat is available.

Florida last week saw one of its highest totals of new unemployment claims in months, with another 71,046 people filing for assistance. That represents a jump of more than 8,200 from the week before, and is the most in any week since mid-August.

To date in Florida, $21.5 billion has been paid out to 2.2 million claimants, including $4.1 billion in state unemployment aid.

Thursday’s jobless claim numbers follow a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report that showed Florida’s workforce decreased by more than 300,000 from December 2019 to December 2020, with the number of unemployed more than doubling. In Tampa Bay area, the labor force shrunk and the number of unemployed grew during that time, although both figures improved slightly from November to December.